The Theatreguide.London Review
Of Characters, Trifles, The Deer)
Park Theatre Summer 2014
This evening of three short plays admirably serves its primary purpose of providing a showcase for six young actresses who display their talent and versatility in a variety of roles. That the plays are entertaining and thought-provoking in themselves is a nice bonus.
Philip Dawkins' Cast Of Characters imagines the cast rehearsing a play about the tangled lives of an extended family and sorting out the plot and characters for themselves by summarising scenes and events out of order.
The playwright is having fun with the very idea of narrative – how many ways can you piece a story together and still make sense? - though the audience's enjoyment will come largely from the soap opera quality of the story, the incidental jokes, and the actresses' able switching between roles and even genders.
Brooke Allen's The Deer is also built on fractured narrative, as a car crash with a deer leaves the dying driver not with her whole life flashing before her eyes but rather a string of scenes built around her concern for her troubled younger brother.
There's a twist at the end that some in the audience might not even catch, but the power of the piece lies in the opportunity it gives the actors to build character and reality out of fragments and indirection.
The most straight-forward of the short plays is the hundred-year-old Trifles by Susan Glaspell, a feminist classic and a gem of miniaturisation and subtlety.
Lawmen investigating a murder leave their wives out of the way in a kitchen, where the women spot and interpret clues the men wouldn't have noticed or understood, and for reasons the men would not understand decide what to do with them.
All three plays are ably and sensitively directed by Jack Thorpe Baker, and the actresses are given such equal opportunities to shine, and do so with such equal skill, that it would be wrong to single any out.
Instead I'll just call the attention of any casting directors and anyone interested in spotting rising young talent to (in the alphabetical-by-first-name order of the programme) Beverley Longhurst, Joanna Kirkland, Lucia McAnespie, Matilda Thorpe, Nicola Blackman and Yolanda Kettle.
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